Monday, November 20, 2017

Pixar: Telling Stories

Public relations and communications to me is all about telling a story. Stories are intriguing, they pull at your heart, they have trials, they have errors, but they all usually result in a good ending or hope to the future. As I look ahead at what is in store for me and what my story is, I thought I would revisit one of my favorite companies that is so great at telling stories.

My favorite Pixar movie is Up. People have mixed tastes about this movie, but in my eyes that’s only because it has a really good story. In nine minutes, Pixar tells a story that is so genuine and real that it leaves viewers stunned and heartbroken. A walk through life in that short of time puts into perspective how short it really all is.

I also love Up for it’s sidekicks. Russell, Kevin and Doug are some of the most interesting characters because they add to the story of Carl and Ellie. I have decided that if I ever own a golden retriever, I will name him Doug.

All through my time at ONU, if I couldn’t come up with a topic to do research or speak on Pixar became my go to. I have learned so much about the company, their employees and the culture that they have built in storytelling as an art. One of ONU’s own, Bob Peterson works at Pixar. He is the voice of Doug in addition to a creative storyteller. Pixar's continuous yearning to grow and learn is what attracts me to their company the most.

One of my favorite books of all time is called Creativity, Inc. where the author outlines the growth of Pixar as a company and the culture growth through their employees. I have read and reread this book so many times, because someday I hope to be a part of a culture that is so inclusive and integrated in the workplace.

Telling people’s stories whether that is through a motion picture film or through the management of their organization is essential to us just living. We live so we can tell a story and document our successes and failures. I think that’s why I go back to Pixar so often. I will let you know how my story starts to unfold, but thank goodness it was here at Ohio Northern.

What inspires your story?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Cold Weather Workouts

With the first fluffy snow last evening, we can officially say that the winter weather might be on the way. Fall basically happened overnight with a flashback to summer temperatures and tornadoes. Weird weather.

With the inconsistency of the weather, my workout schedule has taken a hit. I don’t like to run by myself in the morning when it’s dark, so I have gone to my winter workout rotations.

Disclaimer: Helen is super busy, so I am lucky to get three workouts in a week that might be small. In my mind it’s better than nothing.  

When I marched with Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps, we only had a certain amount of time to warm our bodies up with stretching before we hit the day running. I learned that yoga is awesome. I miss having a trainer to guide me through the flow, but to stretch and get some cardio in I use YouTube tutorials or just the routines I remember from marching. A good workout for me in yoga is about 150 calories for a 30 minute session. That session is always followed with my favorite yoga pose, savasana.

Treadmill Runs
Let me start by saying, I hate treadmills. I would rather run outside in the freezing cold than do a 5K on a treadmill. However, when I need to keep running I will run on a treadmill. My joints hurt so bad after a treadmill run, so I will go short distances on the treadmill and stretch before the next mile or alternate from elliptical to treadmill. If I really can’t run, I will put netflix on my iPad and prop it on the elliptical and go for an episode of MadMen.

Ping Pong
My brother and I would play tennis at least three times a week when it was still warm out. If other people were playing, we would take turns playing WallE. We made up that name for volleying the tennis ball against the wall. Because it’s cold and rainy, we go to WOW and play ping pong. Even for a short game, we can burn a ton of calories like we would when we play tennis. We have resulted in bringing our own ping pong balls, because the one’s they provide usually are smooshed.

My Apple Watch will tell me if I was successful at hitting my move goal at the end of the day. Lately I haven’t hit my goal. I haven’t been making my goal because my priorities are assignments and projects. It’s sad to me, when my health isn’t a priority. When I am stuck at the library late and I only have a hundred calories left to meet my goal, I will be “that guy” and climb up and down the stairs to meet my goal. It sounds so silly, but even the five minutes it takes to do a stair workout is something that makes me feel a little bit better about taking care of myself.

These are only four things that I do to try to stay active when it gets cold. On the meal plan, it gets tough to try to eat healthy so I at least can be in control of staying active.

What do you do to stay fit once it gets cold?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's Not Quite Christmas, A Playlist

It’s not socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music in public… Yet. At least that’s what the consensus of Twitter in the transition from October to November. People are either ready to put gifts under the Christmas tree or sit at the table together with some turkey. There isn’t much in between.

Besides my favorite Christmas songs from Straight No Chaser, I usually stick to the classics. Feel good songs by artists like Nat King Cole, Andy Williams and Judy Garland. Because I am not quite ready to share my Christmas playlist, I have a year-round feel good playlist.

This type of music is the type that makes you feel warm and cozy. You feel totally at home. I use this playlist when I need to get ready in the morning or get me pumped to get some work done. Don’t get me wrong, the chart hits and upbeat music are great to get work done, but this classic playlist just makes me feel like Christmas.

Here are some of the songs in my playlist. I will need this playlist to get things done this week.

What are your favorite classics in your favorite playlist?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Ultimate Throwback Thursdsay

Happy November! Fall is a really reflective season for me. November is numerous people’s reflective month because they are feeling grateful. Whether you post something you are thankful for everyday or just look back on what you have November is the time to be grateful.

November is the month of nostalgia for me. My family member’s birthdays have passed and we are all looking forward to spending the holidays together. For this week’s blog, I decided to go through my Instagram and take a look at all of my #ThrowbackThursdays.  Looking at what I decided to post to throwback, they are some of my favorite memories with my favorite people. Being nostalgic for what is next and appreciating my past has me in a festive mood today. Take a look at my best throwback images below.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bullet Journal Organization

When I was younger I would write stories all the time. I would have countless notebooks filled with little ideas and thoughts of stories I was going to write someday. My best friend and I would sit and hangout with each other writing stories and editing each other’s work. It sounds like the most nerdy thing little kids could do, but for us it was so much fun.

Recently, we both have been trying to get together again and chat. We have tried scheduling a couple of long distance “dates” via FaceTime or the phone, but most of them haven’t gone through. We both are seniors who have just a little on their plates.

We joked today how if we were able to get together instead of writing stories together, we would bring our bullet journals and to-do lists to each other. We both have had quite the lists of things to do, which is part of why we haven’t gotten together. We would take turns organizing our lives.

This past year I started bullet journaling to track my goals for each day, the month and my year. It has been a good way to make sure that I am looking ahead and staying on track with my personal goals. As cheesy as it sounds, this has been so refreshing and mindful for me to do.

Bullet journals are a very personal way to organize. Everyone has their own style and way to organize their lists. You can choose to do it anyway you want! That’s why it’s so fun.

Here are some of the products I use to make my organizing easy!

Of course you don’t need any of these things, you can find paper and pen and make your plans the way you want them. In the chaos of midterms, my bullet journal helps me find the calm just up ahead.

What ways do you keep yourself organized?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October Encouragement

October is such a wonderful month. The weather is still warm enough to enjoy the sun and outdoors, but is cool enough to throw on your favorite sweater and snuggle inside. October is the month of birthday for my family, so there is always something to celebrate. October is one of the most reflective months for me and as I look ahead to what’s next it feels like October.

I have so much to look forward to, but also so much to complete yet. Graduating in December is so exciting yet very stressful. I am looking for jobs right now and it’s making me reflect a lot on what I want for myself and my career. I have been blessed with so many experiences and opportunities so far and I can only look ahead to what is next.

Rather than pour out a sappy blog post, I thought I would offer some quotes that have helped me reflect and have some perspective through my recent changes. Pinterest has gotten a lot of love lately.  All of the quotes in this post have to do with my career and looking ahead for what’s next to come. I am genuinely happy for what I have going for me. I am just struggling to be patient in between stages.

Have a great week, friends. Support and encourage each other!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall Break

Fall break was so refreshing. I am savoring the last couple of breaks before I graduate. I was so happy I got to spend this one at home. CJ took Harrison and I home on Saturday morning. Although the day was gloomy, we were cheery as soon as we arrived in Indiana.

October is the month of birthdays for my family, so we celebrated with a trip to an apple orchard and a taco bar dinner! My family is rather large, but we can be even larger when everyone brings their significant other! We had ten people along for the ride to the apple orchard.

We drove about an hour to Hobart, Indiana to the County Line Orchard. It cost a dollar per individual to go on “your pick” of the apple orchard, pumpkin patch and the sunflower patch. After you get into the orchard then you pay for what you pick. The group of ten of us picked 35 pounds of apples and one sunflower. They had all varieties of apples, but our popular picks were Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Braeburn. We had to climb a couple trees, but it was an adventure. When we walked around there were bees everywhere.  The air either smelled delicious or like Red’s Apple Cider from all the squished, fermenting apples on the ground.  We walked around for about an hour or so and picked before stopping by the shop to pay for our apples and a gallon of cider for us to share.

When we arrived home we laid out all the apples and got caramel sauce to dip before going to ride bikes. My mom and dad recently got new bikes that are more comfortable for them to ride in. They sit low to the ground kind of like a wheelchair tricycle. When I tested them out, it felt like sitting in a recliner with pedals. We went on a twelve mile bike ride together while my little brother and sister were at tennis practice. Harrison, CJ and I rode normal bikes while my parents enjoyed their new wheels. The time we spent together was well spent, plus we got a good workout in.

To wrap up, my fall break was well spent with my family. I got to visit with my grandma and my family and do everything together. I watched some TV and of course got to play tons of games with my siblings. CJ got to be with them also, and it’s always so fun to see him interact with my family. Being with them is the greatest gift of all.

This wouldn’t be a real update on my break if I didn’t speak of my dog! Duchess is growing well and putting on weight. She is getting more curious with her surroundings and has taken to barking at all things that pass her yard. She loves to nap on the stairs and spend time with my mom and is still the cute, playful pup I remember.

I hope everyone had a great fall break. There are only 40 days left until Thanksgiving break. Keep pushing everyone!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Wrapping up the summer was so much fun, but now I will begin talking about things happening currently!

This week I went on a field trip with the ONU Theatre Department to ZFX Flight Effects in Louisville, Kentucky! In their last production, Angels in America the department used flight equipment from ZFX. To save some money on the cost of shipping, ONU took a couple of vans and took it back themselves!

Although we spent more time traveling than actually at the flight center, the trip was well worth it.
ZFX is a flying effects company that manufactures, tests and ships out flight equipment for anything from theatrical shows to church events to concert tours. ZFX is known as the safest and most reliable company to fly from in the arts business. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, the founder “merged science and art” to create a company that fulfill a need.

I am a part of the Theatre Department because I am an arts administration minor, but with my involvement with children’s theatre I have grown a curiosity for the ZFX company. In 2015, Fendig Summer Theatre hired ZFX to do our flights in our production of Mary Poppins. For a small group in an old theatre, it was structurally challenging as well as a new experience for them. We were nothing but happy to work with them and learn along the way. They got to learn how to apply flying with children manually and practice using counterweights with child actors and we got trained to fly the children and provide them an amazing experience!

Two years ago ONU hosted a flight workshop where actors and technicians got to be trained in how to fly and operate the equipment. We worked on basic moves in all of their harnesses as well as some in flight combat acting. ZFX is all about matching art to science and working together. Watch me fly!

They run out of one warehouse in Louisville where they manufacture all the parts, test harnesses and layouts, meet with clients to test different layouts and structurally check all the equipment all before they send their flight directors out to help set up and train the actors and technicians. They are on the road pretty much all year round, literally flying around.

Being able to see the equipment and people behind the magic was so rewarding. We are lucky to have such amazing professors who can figure out how to take us all down there or bring the magic to our school.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Hello, Dolly!

This summer I was one of the co-directors for “Hello, Dolly!” Fendig Summer Theatre for Children hired a team of four people to direct the classic musical for the children of Rensselaer.

A little about Fendig: Fendig Summer Theatre for Children is a non-profit organization that teaches kids how to put on a full-length musical, all by themselves. There are no adults backstage during the show. They sing, they dance, act, run the lights, pull the curtains, make the props, do publicity. This is theatre for the children, by the children.

Our audition process with the kids started during finals week in May. I drove home to Rensselaer to host auditions before coming back for the trip to Germany. We had a total of 87 kids participate this summer. Fendig is free for the children. The only cost to them is for a t-shirt if they want one. Because of the cost, Fendig is only available for children grades four through eight who live in the Rensselaer school district. This limits the number of kids, we have so the quality of the production is high.

This show was a tricky one to do with kids, only because the show is so iconically humorous that some of it, or most of it is lost on the kids when they are acting it out. It also was difficult musically because of the voice ranges for the girls. The character Dolly has a lower register and most children still are in the higher register for singing.  The show is a classic show that recently has been revived on Broadway. The humor of this show never gets old.

While the show was tricky, I had my own trials. This position was way different than the previous summer as assistant director. Taking creative liberties while also managing 87 children is really hard with a younger support team underneath. Although some of my creative decisions with the show were forgotten, I focused more on providing experiences that coincided with Fendig’s mission. In my mind as a director, my job was to serve Fendig’s mission and kids before my personal creative gain with the show.

I had so much fun directing this show with the team of people. Being able to direct my younger sister in Mary Poppins and my younger brother and cousin this year in "Hello, Dolly!" was something I will never forget. Doing a show is always very stressful, busy and full of challenges but the kids on opening night are always worth it. They worked so hard and took direction so well. We sold out all three nights and the kids were so proud of what they put on stage.

A children’s theatre typically is known for a cute kids show, but Fendig is known for putting on high quality shows that you forget the actors are children while you are watching. I can’t wait to see what Fendig does next!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Trip to Germany

I am back to my original series of tales from the summer. This is going to be a long post, so if you need to skim go for it. The next tale took place right after graduation at ONU. The Ohio Northern Wind Orchestra travelled to Germany for a two week tour. We started off our journey in Ada, Ohio. We all boarded a charter bus really early in the morning and drove six hours to Chicago O’Hare Airport. As much as people hate long bus rides, I don’t mind them at all. I travelled a lot during my summers on charter buses. As soon as they start moving I zonk out.

Our flight was twelve hours from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland where we got off for a three hour layover from Dublin to Frankfurt, Germany. I didn’t have any problems on my long flight, because the airline provided little television screens in front of each seat to watch movies, television or play games. I was seated in an aisle seat so I had plenty of room.  One the shorter layover I was stuck between two huge, German men who didn’t speak English so I just listened to music. I was tired, but excited to see Germany so the jet lag didn’t bother me. We all had to just force ourselves to adjust to the time.

Quick note: One of our students left their passport on the plane once we were in Germany. The plane already left to go back to Ireland. He got to spend the first part of our trip in customs with the German police and a faculty member. Poor Brendan.

The first place we visited was Luxembourg. Luxembourg was full of quiet shops and good food. I got to have Guinness at an Irish bar and some other drinks with my friends that night before we got ready for the next day.

We went to Trier where I had the best meal of the whole trip. Although we went to Germany my favorite meal was pizza from an Italian family. The family let us keep the glasses and thought we were very interesting.

Laupheim was the highlight of the trip. It’s a small town in Germany where everyone is a close-knit community. After the war, some parts were left devastated and you can obviously see  the newer part of the town. In all the other locations, we stayed in youth hostels (basically dorm hotels), but in Laupheim we all were placed in homes of members of the orchestra there. My host family was Frank, Petra and their two daughters Yana and Romina. Their little girls held up a sign that read “Welcome in Germany” when we arrived at the orchestra. Their home is gorgeous and quaint. They were wonderful hosts. Every morning we had so much food to take us with on our travels and they tried their best to speak with us.

In Laupheim we visited a brewery, performed a fantastic concert and went to a German barbeque where there was lots of food and beer. They treated us like royalty. One of our professors Dr. Hunt, studied in Germany for twenty years, so we have all these connections in small towns to experience the real life of Germany. We are lucky to have him.

The next day we went to Austria. We hiked up the Pherd trail to get a view of the Swiss Alps in the distance. There were cows with bells on them. The hills were alive with music, too. We were “those” Americans who sang as we hiked up the mountain.

We started off the next day by visiting Stuttgart where we performed another fantastic concert and visited the Mercedes Benz Museum. For some reason I remember this day not by the things we did, but the conversations I had with my professors and friends. I remember it fondly.

Of course if you visit Germany, you should visit a concentration camp if you are able. It’s very hard to put into words how difficult and overwhelming visiting the camp was. We visited Buchenwald. Fifty-eight thousand people died there. The camp was know for genetic testing, euthanizations and their crematorium. There is this gorgeous landscape in the distance, but when you imagine how much pain and suffering went on where you were standing it was too much to handle. Taking photos seemed inappropriate here, but I took a few to remember the landscape and how I felt.

The last place we went to was Berlin! My friend group wanted to get a head start on how to use public transportation so we went out really late the first night. We had to take a bus and two trains to get to a cantina where we had Spanish cuisine. For my friends that really just meant really good margaritas. The next day we went on a tour but were cut off by security around the Brandenburg gate. President Obama happened to be in Berlin and we saw his car and security detail pull up at the gate! It’s a small world! We walked to the East Side Gallery and saw the Berlin Wall. We had currywurst and Mezzo Mix. It’s like an orange cola and coke mix--so good. We went to the Olympic Stadium, the Charlottenburg Palace and the Rittersport chocolate store before ending our evening at the Berlin Philharmonic. I got to sit right behind the French horns!

Before the trip, I was worried about my close friends not being on the tour and being first chair in my section, but I had nothing to worry about. I get along with lots of people and actually had some pretty great friends. I had countless memories as you can tell, but I really will remember the conversation and the people that were with me in these amazing places. If you EVER have a chance to travel abroad whether it’s for a week or a semester, GO! You will not regret it! Thanks for reading about my trip.